1986 Chevrolet Corvette: History, Specs, and Performance

America’s demand for a domestic sports car continued to be answered by the Chevrolet Corvette in 1986. Through continued refinement of successful features, improved safety and security features, and the development of new features and options, the 1986 Chevrolet Corvette carried the same reputation of innovation and performance that had become synonymous with the Corvette name.

History and Improvements of the 1986 Chevrolet Corvette

1986 Chevrolet Corvette

Due to the high theft rate of previous Corvettes in the C4 generation, General Motors decided to address the situation. With nearly 7 percent of 1984 and 1985 Corvettes being stolen, GM began working on a security technology that would become a standard feature on all Vettes, VATS.

Vehicle Anti-Theft System, or VATS, was a very simple addition that accompanied the existing security system that used a small metal pellet that was embedded in the vehicle’s ignition key. The pellet had a specific electrical resistance that had to be detected by a decoder before the engine could be started. If the someone attempted to start the Corvette with the incorrect key or another mechanism, the system would shut down the fuel pump and the starter relay for two minutes. VATS helped to reduce Corvette theft from 7 percent to less than 1 percent by 1988 and prompted insurance companies to lower their rates for Corvettes that were equipped with VATS.

The 1986 Chevrolet Corvette was also the first time that Corvettes would be equipped with the ABS II Bosch brake system, the latest in ABS technology at that time. During this timeframe, ABS was still a fairly new technology and was limited to expensive luxury cars. Adding them to the Corvette solidified the line as being a world-class sports car.

Another breakthrough for the 1986 Chevrolet Corvette can under the hood. The cylinder heads on the L98 engine were changed from cast-iron to aluminum and reduced the curb weight of the 1986 Corvette by 125 pounds. This leads to the lightest Corvette in 20 years at less than 3,000 pounds.

1986 Chevrolet Corvette Model Options

Changes were made to the 1986 Corvette across all model types, however, they did not provide any improvements to the car’s’ performance. In order to meet increasing emissions standards, a triple catalytic converter exhaust system was added. The wheel caster was adjusted from 3.8 to 6 degrees and the tires were increased in size from the P255s to P245/VR5016s. The Z51 package continued with the P255s however.


One of the exterior features found on the 1986 Chevrolet Corvette coupes is a stop lamp that is mounted above the rear window. This addition was to meet a Federal requirement. It’s also one of the few exterior changes seen since the launch of the C4 generation in 1984.

Exterior color options included:

  • Silver Metallic;
  • White;
  • Medium Gray Metallic;
  • Medium Blue Metallic;
  • Yellow;
  • Black;
  • Bright Red;
  • Gold Metallic;
  • Copper Metallic;
  • Dark Red Metallic;
  • Medium Brown Metallic;
  • Silver Beige Metallic;
  • White / Silver Two-Tone;
  • Silver Beige / Medium Brown Two-Tone;
  • Gray / Black Two-Tone;
  • Silver / Gray Two-Tone;
  • Silver Beige / Black Two-Tone.

On the inside, the LCD instruments were placed at a different angle to help with visibility of the gauges during daytime operation. There was also an upshift indicator added to help drivers achieve the best fuel efficiency. A low coolant and anti-lock display were also added.

Interior colors included:

  • Blue;
  • Saddle;
  • Red;
  • Bronze;
  • Medium Gray;
  • Graphite.

The L98, 5.7 Liter, 350 V-8 provided the power for the 1986 Corvette and drivers could also choose between the 4+3 Speed manual or a 4 Speed automatic transmission. This package provides the driver with 230 HP at 4,000 rpm and 330 pound-feet of torque at 3,200 rpm. For 0 to 60 MPH times, drivers could expect 5.8 seconds.


Due to the absence of supporting hardware, such as a roof pillar, the 1986 Chevrolet Corvette convertible would have more body flex. To resolve this, the engineers added reinforcement to the frame cross member, a larger X-brace was added that tied the door pillars to the torque boxes at the rear of the chassis, and a larger K-brace was added. The results were a convertible that was more rigid than the coupe and proved to be just as competitively functional.

On the exterior, the new center stop lamp was moved from above where the back window would be located on the coupe, to the center of the rear bumper fascia and just above the Corvette badge.

Malcolm Konner Commemorative Edition

1986 Chevrolet Corvette Malcolm Konner Commemorative Edition

To honor New Jersey Chevrolet dealership founder, Malcolm Konner, GM built 50 Commemorative Edition Corvettes in 1986. All were coupes and twenty equipped with manual transmissions and the rest were automatics. Each Vette had Graphite leather interiors and two-tone Silver Beige over Black for exterior colors.

Resources for the 1986 Corvette

Here are some useful sources for information or parts for your 1986 Chevrolet Corvette:

  • CorvetteCentral.com. This is a great site that specializes in parts for C4 Corvettes.
  • HobbyCarCorvettes.net. Whether you are looking for more information about your 1986 Chevrolet Corvette or looking to connect with other Vette enthusiasts, this site will guide you in the right direction.
  • UsedCorvettesforSale.com. If you are in the market for a C4 Corvette, checkout this site.

Other Fun Stuff for Your 1986 Corvette

The popularity of the Corvette line has helped to create a plethora of aftermarket and customization kits available to Vette owners. Simply jump on your favorite browser and you will see what we mean.

Summing up

The 1986 Chevrolet Corvette may not have the large fan following as many of the other Vettes. But it did usher in some important features. These features not only helped to make the consumer feel safer about owning a Corvette, it also created a standard that influenced the insurance industry.

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